'Terrific' Witherspoon Carries Wild
Flick based on Cheryl Strayed's memoir is 'captivating,' but with 'interruptions'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2014 10:06 AM CST

(Newser) – It looks like Reese Witherspoon's hard work paid off. Critics and audiences alike are raving about Wild, a flick based on Cheryl Strayed's bestselling memoir about hiking 1,100 miles after the death of her mother and collapse of her marriage. Should Witherspoon prepare an Oscar speech? What the critics are saying:

  • "Witherspoon uses her own undoubted discomfort with the physical demands of the role to make us feel Strayed’s predicament in our bones," writes Peter Rainer at the Christian Science Monitor. The film is broken up by flashbacks, as is Strayed's memoir, but here they "tend to dissipate rather than enhance Strayed's trek." Still, Witherspoon "may be bucking for another Oscar," Rainer writes.

  • "Wild is a fierce path well-worth following," writes Claudia Puig at USA Today. It's "faithful to the book" and flaunts "stunning cinematography." Plus, "Witherspoon is terrific" as she "brings writer Strayed alive, with all her complexity, confusion and drive," Puig writes. "Her voice-over narration is evocative, sometimes heartbreaking."
  • Wild is "like a physical, philosophical and moral odyssey jointly crafted by Nietzsche and John Muir," played out "against some of the most magnificent scenery on the planet," writes Andrew O'Hehir at Salon. Yet he's not totally feeling it. "The movie has a curiously unsticky and unmemorable quality," he writes. "It stops being a story of self-defining human freedom, and becomes instruction."
  • Both Wild and Witherspoon deliver for Joe Morgenstern. Witherspoon gives "a sensational performance, by far the best one of her career," he writes at the Wall Street Journal. She not only carries a heavy backpack, she "carries the whole movie." However, he saw the flashbacks to rough sex and hard drugs as "interruptions."